HOW-TO: Modular Vinyl Record Clock

VIDEO:

WRITTEN GUIDE:

Got some old vinyl record that’s both losing its value and gathering dust? Don’t worry, we’re going to make it come to life again! This is what we’ll need:

Supply list:

  • Vinyl record(s)
  • A suitable wall clock
  • Acrylic glass
  • Brass tube support sleeves
  • RGB LED-strip
  • LED controller
  • Shrinking tube
  • Quick drying epoxy
  • S-hook

Tools used:

  • Wood burning tool w/ scalpel tip
  • Hot glue
  • Nippers
  • Rotary sander
  • Scroll saw
  • Drill
  • Hole saw drill
  • File
  • Dremel
  • Blow torch

 

STEP 1: CREATING AND ADJUSTING A TEMPLATE

Full resolution of the template can be downloaded for free here!

We’re using Photoshop to create a cutting template for the design. Not going to try and freehand this. As a regular LP vinyl record is 30 cm, we have to adjust the height before printing. We’re going to flip the design as well, because the tool we’ll use to cut it out will make some of the paper melt and stick to the vinyl. If we flip it first, we don’t have to clean up the edges as much, and we can just flip it back and have a nice and smooth front.

Additionally, our pattern is wider than 30 cm, so we have to make two copies so that we can include the whole design. We’ll just tape the two copies together after printing, and we have out whole design.

 

STEP 2: CUTTING OUT THE PATTERN

Starting off here by cutting one edge from the print, aligning them perfectly and taping them together. Then we can cut around the whole circle and tape it to the record. We’ll use a wood underlay, because the wood burning tool we’re going to use will burn right through it. Also, we can nail the record to the wood so that it stays in place.

We’ll use the wood burning tool with a scalpel tip to carefully cut out our design. Make sure to use an iron tip cleaner ball or something similar to clean and scrub the scalpel tip every now and then, as the vinyl might stick to it. And keep the room well ventilated. Anyway, when we’ve traced all the lines we can start removing piece by piece, making them smaller if we have to, and just break them off. Be a bit careful here, as it’s easy to break off parts that’s not supposed to.

 

STEP 3: REMOVING PAPER, FINISHING UP THE RECORD

Now we can remove all the paper, and maybe clean up the lines a bit with a regular scalpel where it’s most needed. As we’ll flip it, we only have to fix the worst spots. Now we’re done with the vinyl!

 

STEP 4: STUDY THE CLOCK YOU’LL USE

I bought this particular clock because the design is perfect for this project. It’s easy to take apart, and there’s a nut under the clock hands that will be able to keep the vinyl record in place. This way it will also be very easy to change the design later, and make the clock modular!

 

STEP 5: CUTTING OUT AN ACRYLIC BACKPIECE

Now we’re making a backpiece that’s going to light up behind the vinyl. For this we’re using acrylic glass, as it’s quite easy to modify. First we’re using a vinyl record to trace out the outlines and the center. After that we can use a scroll saw to cut out a rough circular shape, and then a file, sandpaper or electrical sander to fix and smooth out the edges.

 

STEP 6: FIXING UP AND ADJUSTING THE ACRYLIC

We’ve already traced the center, so now we can drill a hole in the middle. Centering the clock, we’ll trace the outlines of it. Then we can attach a hole saw bit to the drill, and make a hole that is a little smaller than the clock itself. It’s still kinda hard to reach the battery, and well, we kinda have to reach it at some point, so we have to expand the hole a bit around those corners (see picture). For this, we’ll use the beloved Dremel tool (although any similar rotary tool will work).

 

STEP 7: FINAL FINISH ON THE ACRYLIC

The edges are stilla bit rough, so we can use a blow torch to really make them super smooth. As we’ll add lights to the acrylic later, we have to sand down the surface with a rotary sander to make it nice and rough so that we’ll be able to see the light.

In short; smooth edges, rough surface.

 

STEP 8: ATTACHING THE CLOCK

It’s time to glue the clock to the acrylic! For this, we need some quick drying epoxy. It’s a two component glue that is quite strong, and it’s just perfect in this case.

What I should have shown in the pictures is that I put the vinyl record over the acrylic while centering the clock, so that I had a reference point for where the center was. Also, really important to align the battery input with the custom hole.

 

STEP 9: ELECTRONICS

So, the electronics. Not too complicated, actually. We need an LED controller, an RGB LED-strip and shrinking tube. The signal wire on the LED controller has to be accessible from some angle, as we want to be able to change the colour of the lights every now and then. The power input is something we want to hide as well as we can.

We start by connecting the LED-strip to the other end of the LED controller. Make sure the two small arrows at the top of the two pieces align. We can then add a shrinking tube over it to keep it in place. We’ll also add a shrinking tube over the end of the LED-strip to avoid any damage or other issues later. Lastly, to clean up the wire mess a bit, we can bend the signal and power cable and add another shrinking tube. This will just make it take up less space (which is kind of what we want since it’s going to be hidden behind the clock).

Finally, we can cut the LED-strip to a proper length, and glue it to the inner edge of the acrylic, trying to center the LEDs as well as we can. We’ll use hot glue for this. Then we can test and check that the red, green and blue all work properly.

Everything will be powered by a 12 V power cable.

 

STEP 10: DISASSEMBING, REASSEMBLING

It is now time to disassemble the clock! On this one, we just have to remove a tiny knob at the top, then the two clock hands and a nut. The vinyl record fits perfectly, and the nut is all that holds it in place. As it’s so easy to disassemble, it really makes it easier to change the designs every once in a while! Then we just have to reassemble it.

 

STEP 11: FINAL TOUCHES

The clock hands are a bit too long, so we can use some nippers to shorten them.

As the electronics do take up some space at the back, we’ll use a couple of brass tube support sleeves as spacers between the clock and the wall. Not only do they function as spacers, but they also give it a more rigid look, as it seems like they are drilled in or attached to the wall in some way. They’re easy to glue on without spilling too, as we can just fill them with hot glue and wait for it to dry.

 

STEP 12: HANGING IT ON THE WALL

Final step now! We’re making the hanging solution quite simple with an S-hook on the wall. Yupp, that simple. To clean it up and make it look more finished we’ll hide the cable properly. Aaaand… it’s finished!

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

What’s awesome is that it looks great both in the light and in the dark. Although it’s kind of hard to tell the time in the dark, it still looks awesome as a decorative wall piece or night light.

I also love the fact that it’s modular. I can make new designs whenever I feel like it, and then just stock up on different ones that I can change whenever. You could make different ones for all the seasons, or maybe for special occations? Tell me if you have any suggestions! Here is one other with the ring of power inscription on it.

Thanks for watching/reading and remember to stay nerdy,
The Natural Nerds

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